Don’t let the title intimidate you — pilaf is just rice cooked in seasoned broth. In this case, with homemade chicken broth. Ergo, an easy yet super tasty chicken pilaf.
We’ve been cooking rice this way for years and, until recently, I didn’t know there was a name for it. It’s very similar to Hainanese chicken rice except that with pilaf, you can add visible pieces of herbs, spices and even meat and vegetables.
Ideally, the rice grains in a pilaf should stay separate after cooking. Rice varieties that are very high in starch are not recommended. Long-grain rice like jasmine and basmati are the best choices as they fluff up nicely during cooking while the grains stay separate.
Pilaf (also spelled pilaff, pilav, pilau, pulao or plov) is found in South Asian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking. While the Italian risotto requires stirring and the continuous addition of broth to achieve just the right consistency, in comparison, cooking pilaf is a breeze. Just cook the rice in oil, pour in the broth, bring to the boil, cover and leave until the rice absorbs all of the broth. That’s the basic pilaf.
This recipe is obviously not just for a basic pilaf as I have added a lot of extras to make it a one-dish meal. The rice derives its brownish color from caramelized onion bits.
- 6 to 8 to 8 chicken thigh fillets (skin on), rubbed with salt
- 1 large white onion (or 2 medium), roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup vegetable cooking oil
- 1/2 cup cashew nut halves roasted in an oil-free pan
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 cup long-grain rice
- 5 to 6 cups chicken bone broth seasoned
- 1/2 cup green peas
Heat a non-stick frying pan. Arrange the chicken, skin side down, in a single layer. Cook until the skins are lightly browned. Flip to brown the other side. Remove from the pan and cut into one-inch cubes. Save any juice that may come out of the meat.
Heat the cooking oil in a clean pan. Add the chopped onion and cook until nicely browned. Remove with a slotted spoon.
Take two tablespoons of the oil in which the onion was cooked. Pour into a large frying pan (a wok works best). Add the butter. Heat until the butter is melted and sizzling. Add the rice. Cook, stirring, to coat every grain with oil.
Push one half of the rice to the side. Scatter the chicken (with the juices, if any), peas, cashew nuts and browned onion bits on the well. Cover with rice.
Pour the broth into the pan. Cover and cook over medium heat for 20 to 25 minutes.